Philadelphia Phillies: 2020 Fantasy Preview – Part 1

(Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images)
(Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images) /

In the first of a three-part series about the fantasy outlooks of Philadelphia Phillies players, we look at the cream of the crop – Phillies players that will be taken near the top of fantasy drafts.

When it comes to your fantasy baseball league, the Philadelphia Phillies have no shortage of viable options to offer. No, there aren’t any slam dunk first-rounders to be had, but there is good balance across the Phillies roster to help you at various stages of your draft.

To be clear, these evaluations are based on 12-team leagues that use the standard fantasy categories for hitters and pitchers and a typical snake draft (1 through 12, then 12 through 1, alternating rounds). If your league is smaller, bigger, or has some kind of weird scoring, adjust accordingly.

There are four, perhaps five, Phillies that will go in the top ten rounds of fantasy drafts. We’ll get into that later, but now let’s begin our look at the top options the Phillies have to offer.

Bryce Harper

Where to grab him: Formerly a top-round selection, Harper has fallen back into second-round material, even going as late as the third in some projections. But that’s ok, as he should put up a repeat of the numbers he produced last season in his first year in Philadelphia. If you were fortunate enough to get one of the top three picks in your draft and select Mike Trout, Ronald Acuña Jr., or Christian Yelich, you may have Harper fall to you in the next round. If that’s the case, grab him, and then hit the snooze alarm on your outfield for about ten rounds. If Harper is still staring you in the face in the early third round, you basically have to pick him. And if your league uses on-base percentage instead of batting average, Harper’s stock improves even more.

What to expect: As I said, Harper should basically repeat his 35 home runs and 114 RBI from last year. I would expect him to improve upon his run total, however. Harper crossed the plate 98 times in 2019, which was actually a mild disappointment. If Rhys Hoskins bounces back from a terrible second half and hits behind Harper, it would really help Harper’s run total. Don’t expect him to steal 15 bases again, though.

J.T. Realmuto

Where to grab him: Realmuto is unquestionably the top catcher in the fantasy baseball game, and he is probably safe to grab late in the fifth round. But all it takes is one owner to be enamored with what he can provide at a weak position to reach for him way too early and then start the inevitable run on catchers that screws everything up. If you know what’s good for you, you won’t do that. Let someone blow a third-rounder on him if they really want to. Realmuto is a tough player to target; he seems like more of a “fall in your lap”-type player when you feel that other worthy options are gone at a certain point.

What to expect: J.T. once again will benefit from a ton of playing time thanks to his solid bat, excellent defense, and total lack of a competent backup at this point in time. He’ll give you 20-30 more games than most other catchers, so volume is a huge plus. Like Harper, Realmuto is likely to essentially repeat his homer and RBI numbers (25 and 83) from last year. He can also make a very real push at 100 runs scored, which is amazing for a catcher. The handful of stolen bases he’ll probably throw in is a nice bonus, but don’t count on them. Assuming health, he’ll allow you to “set and forget” your catcher spot and let you worry about other things.

Aaron Nola

Where to grab him: Nola’s value looks to be putting him right near Realmuto in several mock draft projections. So, when one gets selected, assume that the other isn’t far behind. Opinions of Nola seem to be fluctuating, placing him anywhere from about 13th to 22nd among starting pitchers. You might be able to grab him in the fifth round if pitchers are getting thin. But if you could land him in the sixth round, it would be great value.

What to expect: Aaron Nola was fantastic in 2018. 2019, not so much. He’s a sure bet for well over 200 strikeouts again, but are you getting his 2018 ERA (2.37) or his 2019 ERA (3.87)? Let’s just say he splits the difference and comes in somewhere around 3.15 to 3.25. As for wins, they’re so volatile that he could win 12 just as easily as he could win 20. Maybe plan on 15 or 16 and be happy if he gets there.

Zack Wheeler

Where to grab him: Zack Wheeler might actually get selected a tad later than another Phil, Rhys Hoskins, but we’ll save Hoskins for next time. Wheeler is the Phillies’ shiny new toy and we’ll treat him as such. It will again come down to supply and demand in regard to starting pitching, so Wheeler could come off the board anywhere between the late 9th round and the early 11th. As a #3 pitcher on your fantasy team, he would be a solid investment around this time.

What to expect: In Wheeler’s case, you can probably bet on his win total going up from last year, when he had some bad luck in only winning 11 games for an 86-76 Mets team. Aside from that, I would expect an ERA perhaps a little bit better than his 3.96 mark in 2019, although there is a worry that his flyball tendencies will hurt him at Citizens Bank Park. Wheeler should also punch out between 175 and 190 batters, not elite but a solid contribution. He’s just about the #30 starting pitcher for fantasy purposes.

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That will conclude Part 1 of this series, as we’ll be back next time with more on Rhys Hoskins and a couple other Phillies who could become targets for you in the middle rounds of your draft.